After not being seen for more than 30 years, the Japanese river otter (Lutra lutra whiteleyi) has been declared extinct by the country’s Ministry of the Environment, which also last week declared several other species extinct.

Once numbering in the millions, Japanese river otters—a subspecies of the European or Eurasian otter (L. lutra)—were overhunted for their fur, most of which was sold to foreign traders, and further suffered when their habitats became developed and polluted. The animals grew to about a meter in length and subsisted mainly on fish and shrimp.

The river otter was last officially observed in the wild in a river in the city of Susaki in Japan’s Kochi Prefecture in 1979, when a single animal was photographed. The otter remains the official animal symbol of Japan’s Ehime Prefecture, home of the poet Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902), who equated himself with otters in his haiku and referred to himself as Dassai Sho-oku Shujin (“Otter Bookstore Owner”). The anniversary of Shiki’s death is celebrated every September 19 as Dassai-ki (“Otter’s ceremony anniversary”), according to a report in Asahi Shumbun.

Several searches have been conducted for the river otter over the years, although little if any evidence of their continued existence has been found. Yoshihiko Machida, a professor emeritus at Kochi University, told The Mainichi that one case of otter droppings was confirmed in 1999. He said he still has hope that the otter exists and plans to continue searching it.

In addition to the river otter, the Ministry of the Environment also declared as extinct a subspecies of the least horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus pumilus miyakonis), which was last seen in 1971. The Japanese subspecies of the Asian black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) was declared extinct on the island of Kyushu, where it has not been seen since 1957 (it persists elsewhere in Japan). One bird species, one insect species, one shellfish species and two plant species were also listed as extinct. The names of those additional groups were not immediately available.

The otter and horseshoe bat mark the first mammal extinctions in Japan of species that persisted until at least some point during the Showa period, which lasted from 1926 to 1989. Four other Japanese mammals went extinct during what is known as the Meiji restoration period from 1868 to 1912, including two wolf subspecies— the Hokkaido wolf (Canis lupus hattai) and the Honshu wolf (Canis lupus hodophilax)—and two bats— the Okinawa flying fox (Pteropus loochoensis) and the Ogasawara bat (Pipistrellus sturdeei). The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources currently lists the two bats as “Data Deficient” rather than “Extinct” as there is some doubt about their taxonomy and whether or not they were actually endemic to Japan. (SOURCE)

VIDEO Japanese river otter declared extinct

Responses to "Japanese River Otter Declared Extinct (Video)"

  1. Lise says:

    A sad day, indeed. We can only hope that there are still a few of the otters out there, hiding away from man's pervasive influence....

  2. Jennifer says:

    Very sad :(

  3. Anonymous says:

    Fur traders don't care if species go extinct, they don't even care if it upsets the food chain as long as they get their money. The oceans large fish species are down to ten percent of what they were when first measured yet we keep fishing and call it sport. I love it when people pretend to give a shit. They give that half second of silence and then focus on the next most socially praiseworthy topic. They should just stick with what they really care about, POP-culture, money and a big fat penis.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Maybe God was trying to tell them something with that earthquake and psnumi but I doubt that they listened cause they are still in the oceans trying to make whales disapear under the guise of research. Maybe the country should sink into the ocean and all be food for those whales.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Reading the comments on this page leaves me much more sickened than the story here. It is a very sad thing when animals go extinct, especially when it could have been prevented. However, to judge Japan so harshly to the point of wishing murder upon them, but then preaching about god... well, you've got some serious issues. Leave it to the monotheists to be total hypocrites. I'm assuming your American, because we have tons of you messed up people here. Stop wishing death upon anyone who has different beliefs than you, it's sickening. You and Islam have the same behavior, which isn't surprising since monotheism is all the same, the factions are just nitpicking certain details. And it isn't even following your supposed beliefs either! Unless you are one of those nuts that takes the bible literally, if so, then you should probably be stoned to death if you have has sex out of wedlock, worn combined fibers (Lev.19:19, along with planting two different crops in the same field), gotten divorced, ate shellfish (that's also an "abomination" in the bible- Lev. 11:10), if you've ever gotten your hair trimmed, like around the temple area, you're also going to hell (Lev. 19:27).

    To be honest, I can go on and on... but slavery is just fine in the bible.
    You can't pick and choose if this is your faith.
    Not to mention every country is responsible for the extinction of animals. The USA especially! We're one of the worst! Maybe THE worst.

    The best thing that we can do is work together to find ways of preventing this from happening. Not harshly judge others just because they are different. That is closed-minded and gets us nowhere. Educate yourself and stop the ignorance.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Oh, forget to mention how the hateful comments are always anonymous. I'm not scared to own my beliefs!

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